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Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools

Description:  Ever since the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference adopted a policy that allows males who identify as female to compete in girls’ athletic events, boys have consistently deprived Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, Chelsea Mitchell, and Ashley Nicoletti of honors and opportunities to compete at elite levels. CIAC’s policy is at odds with Title IX, a federal law designed to create equal opportunities for women in education and athletics.

Monday, Jun 5, 2023

WHO:  Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys

WHAT:  Available for media interviews following oral arguments in Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools

WHEN:  Immediately following hearing, which begins at 2 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, June 6

WHERE:  U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse, 40 Foley Square, New York, Courtroom 1703; or view the livestream. To schedule an interview, contact ADF Media Relations.

NEW YORK – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing four female athletes will be available for media interviews Tuesday following a hearing at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. The athletes—Selina Soule, Chelsea Mitchell, Alanna Smith, and Ashley Nicoletti—were consistently deprived of honors and opportunities to compete at elite levels because the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference adopted a policy that allows males who identify as female to compete in girls’ athletic events.

The 2nd Circuit announced in February that the full court would rehear the case after a three-judge panel of the court ruled against the female athletes in December of last year, saying they suffered no legal injury.

“Selina, Chelsea, Alanna, and Ashley—like all female athletes—deserve access to fair competition. The CIAC’s policy degraded each of their accomplishments and scarred their athletic records, irreparably harming each female athlete’s interest in accurate recognition of her athletic achievements,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch, who will be arguing before the court on behalf of the athletes. “We urge the 2nd Circuit to set the record straight and allow these brave women to make their case under Title IX. This is imperative not only for the women who have been deprived of medals, potential scholarships, and opportunities, but also for all female athletes across the country.”

In March, a broad coalition of athletes, Olympians, coaches, sports officials, 23 states, and several athletic and advocacy organizations rallied in support of the female athletes and their rights under Title IX by filing 12 friend-of-the-court briefs with the 2nd Circuit in Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools.

Starting in 2017, two male athletes began competing in Connecticut girls’ high school track. In just three years, those two males broke 17 girls’ track meet records, deprived girls of more than 85 opportunities to advance to the next level of competition, and took 15 women’s state track championship titles. Four of those championship titles were earned by ADF client Chelsea Mitchell. Four times she was the fastest female in a women’s state championship race, and four times she watched that title, honor, and recognition go to a male athlete instead. Over the course of her high school career, Mitchell lost to these males more than 20 times. The other female athletes represented in this case all likewise have been denied medals, placements, or advancement opportunities because of the male athletes competing on their team.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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ABOUT John Bursch

John Bursch is senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy with Alliance Defending Freedom. Bursch has argued 12 U.S. Supreme Court cases and more than 30 state supreme court cases since 2011, and a recent study concluded that among all frequent Supreme Court advocates who did not work for the federal government, he had the 3rd highest success rate for persuading justices to adopt his legal position. Bursch served as solicitor general for the state of Michigan from 2011-2013. He has argued multiple Michigan Supreme Court cases in eight of the last ten terms and has successfully litigated hundreds of matters nationwide, including six with at least $1 billion at stake. As part of his private firm, Bursch Law PLLC, he has represented Fortune 500 companies, foreign and domestic governments, top public officials, and industry associations in high-profile cases, primarily on appeal. He received his J.D. magna cum laude in 1997 from the University of Minnesota Law School and is admitted to practice in numerous federal district and appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

ABOUT Christiana Kiefer

Christiana Kiefer serves as senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, where she is a key member of the Center for Conscience Initiatives. Since joining ADF in 2012, Kiefer has worked to protect women's and girls' sports and has defended the bodily privacy rights of students. She has also worked to protect the constitutionally protected freedom of churches, Christian schools, and Christian ministries to exercise their faith without government interference. Kiefer earned her J.D. in 2010 from Oak Brook College of Law and Government Policy, where she graduated first in her class and served as a teaching assistant in criminal law. Also in 2010, Kiefer completed the ADF leadership development program to become a Blackstone Fellow. She is admitted to the state bar of California, the U.S. Supreme Court, and numerous federal district and appellate courts.